YahtzeeSeven years old, the baby. Three much older sisters and an older brother rounded out our clan. Together with our parents and assorted pets, the yearly camping trip to eastern Oregon would begin as soon as my dad pulled out of the driveway, all five of us bouncing around in the back of the camper. As my father put distance between us and the Portland rain, we would pull out Yahtzee and the five of us would begin to play. Round after rounds and of cutthroat Yahtzee. No one played purely for the enjoyment of the game; we played to win. Noisily, obnoxiously, we would shake those dice in the cup and pour out the dice with flair. If the dice flew off the tiny camper table, there was no reroll: we played as it landed. “No helping Erica,” my brother would say. “She has to figure it out.” My oldest sister Dory would check everyone’s math at the end of each round looking for addition errors. Let’s face it, she was checking for cheaters, or creative addition. There was glee in each other’s hearts if someone had to cross out a Large Straight because they had already used their Chance.
Sixteen years old, still the baby, visiting Dory in Texas for a week during summer vacation. She was married now with two small children. My sister and I would play Yahtzee when my niece and nephew were taking their afternoon naps. It was some sort of Dory tradition to make tuna sandwiches, cut diagonally of course, and lemonade to accompany our rounds of Yahtzee. Still cutthroat, but now we would roll the dice on a dish towel she placed on the kitchen table in an effort to muffle the sounds of the dice so the kids would sleep.
Thirty-nine, always the baby, but now a caregiver, visiting Dory, who was now living in Oregon again. I flew from Virginia to visit, and to help her around the house after her surgery. Again, like a seldom seen friend from years gone past, Yahtzee was there. Just a few rounds per day, until she grew tired and needed to rest. Now we rolled quietly, without using the cup, because the noise bothered her. Now, I used a calculator to add her score.
Forty-two, “baby sis,” as my sister Joleen would say. Two much older sisters, my older brother and I gathered around the dinner table, and pulled out Dory’s game of Yahtzee in an effort to fill the void. Inside were used scorecards from countless games played God knows how many years ago. I found one with my name on it. My handwriting looked juvenile, a swirly capital E in red ink in the upper left corner of the scorecard. Could it be that there was a card from my teenage years in there? There was another with my brother’s name, others with her kid’s names, her husband’s name. A time capsule of sorts. The four of us each took a score sheet, and we began to roll the dice.
Erica Lemley is a work in progress: a mother, grandmother, employee, dog owner, runner, and former track coach. She enjoys Seinfeld, cheetos, cheesesake, reading, crossword puzzles, Pinterest and a glass of wine. She finds inspiration in the everyday lyrics of life. She lives in Virginia.